Friday, March 29, 2013

(CLP) Upholding Bad Laws

Once the Obama administration decided that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, they had to decide whether to go on enforcing it or not. Here's the story in today's New York Times:  You'll have to cut-and-paste the URL to read it, since the link function in Blogger seems to be broken.

(CLP) Billable Hours

A friend of mine was once an associate at a big urban law firm, and had to account for every six minutes of her workday so it could be billed to some account. This is part of what accounts for lawyers having lower job-satisfaction ratings than almost any other profession -- apparently garbage collectors like their work more than lawyers do. A piece in this morning's New York Times addresses the problem:

Monday, March 25, 2013

(CLP) Marriage Equality before the Court

A fascinating set of cases before the current Supreme Court session interact with each other confusingly. Amy Davidson on her New Yorker blog helps to sort out the issues:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

(WR) Detachment Revisited

In an ongoing conversation about the notion of detachment in the Gita with one of you, I had some thoughts that might be of interest to those of you still trying to think through that text:

It is important to look at what the Gita says, not only about detachment as such, but about what a spiritually advancee (or illumined) person is like. For instance, there is much talk about love, compassion, and friendship in a sattvic person that we must somehow reconcile with the specific passages about detachment.

But looking at those passages, too, we find some nuance: specifically, Krishna recommends not detachment simpliciter, but specifically detachment from the results of action. It is possible, then, to be deeply immersed and passionate about your work, for example, to attend to it closely and fully engage with it, while not obsessing about its success, reward, or other extrinsic value.

Here's an example: suppose I see a homeless person, but am not detached from the riot of feelings we all have around that condition -- fear, suspicion, pity, discomfort, disgust, shame, etc. I might move to the other side of the street, or I might slip him a dollar and keep moving, but I am very unlikely to be able or willing to engage with him, get to know him, do something for him that might actually be useful. If on the other hand I am detached from that confusing welter of feelings -- and from the sense of hopelessness that anything I did would matter -- I can calmly assess whether he is or is not threatening, etc., strike up a compassionate conversation (between equals, not as patron to client), and think clearly about whether there is anything I can do that will be both respectful and helpful.

So detachment is not withdrawal and disengagement, as you might at first imagine, but rather a way to free ourselves from emotional turmoil so as to think and act clearly and with well-considered purpose.